It’s never a good idea to flee from police, and split-second decisions are sometimes made in haste, but this story takes things to another level.
On July 22, 2018, James J. Olscamp refused to stop his UTV and injured a conservation officer in upstate New York. Olscamp’s decision to flee the scene led to the officer being dragged after he ordered Olscamp to stop his UTV.
Just this past week, Olscamp was sentenced to one year in the Niagara County Jail.
Let’s get a closer look at what occurred.
The original incident happened in July 2018. That’s when Shea Mathis, an Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) with the state of New York, responded to a complaint of trespassing on private property in the vicinity of Liberty Road in Wheatfield, a town just outside Niagara Falls.
DEC’s Environmental Conservation Police Officers spend time in the community protecting citizens, wildlife and the environment. They also encounter dangerous situations, just like most law enforcement officials do.
When ECO Mathis attempted to stop two men riding a UTV and ATV, both of them refused. Dean Banks, 52, nearly ran Mathis over while driving his ATV before speeding away from the scene. ECO Mathis then attempted to place James Olscamp, 30, under arrest and he also refused.
James Olscamp then dragged ECO Mathis over 1000 feet, causing injuries to his legs, arms, face, and torso – essentially his entire body.
Following the event, it was ECO Mathis who called 911 for help. That’s when Niagara County Deputy Sheriff, New York State Police plus the U.S. Department of Homeland Security showed up to offer assistance. Mathis was then taken to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and released later that night after somehow escaping this life-threatening situation with only surface-level injuries.
Now that you understand what happened, what recently occurred will make a little more sense.
On June 6th, 2019, James Olscamp was sentenced to one year in Niagara County Jail. His charges included:
Reckless Endangerment in the 1st Degree, a Class D felony
Tampering with evidence, a Class E felony
Obstruction of Governmental Administration, a Class A misdemeanor
Assault in the Third Degree, a Class A misdemeanor to which he pleaded guilty
He was also required to pay $2,237 worth of restitution to the State.
Dean Banks also pleaded guilty to charges including attempted reckless endangerment and ATV trespassing; he was ordered to pay $1,030 in fines.
Our Take: This Was a Senseless Act of Violence
We obtained the above image from the nonprofit organization Prison Policy Initiative. It puts the idea of 1,000 feet into perfect perspective.
The decision to run from police on a UTV would not have been understandable even if the officer hadn’t been dragged. But when you consider this rider dragged an officer for over 1000 feet – more than the length of a football field – it really starts to look more like a conscious decision than an ill-fated gut reaction.
So, what should you do when getting pulled over?
It’s really simple: PULL OVER!
If you are doing something wrong, own up to it. Don’t try to outrun the police or lose them. That’s just foolish and leads to accidents. No one needs to get injured or die because of your decision to violate the law. That’s on you.
Many times, police are generous with citizens that are willing to pull over and own up to their mistakes. You might even get to drive away with a warning. The important thing is you didn’t choose to put others’ lives in jeopardy for no justifiable reason.
Do you think the sentence was too harsh, or not harsh enough?
Let us know your thoughts on what happened to these two riders. Do you think more should have been done considering an officer was hurt or do you think the judge was too strict? Let us know your thoughts.